This article originally featured in the April 2020 issue of Connect.

Japan’s Fresh Fruit

Hoong Shao Ting (Nagano)

Before coming to Japan, I never understood the true meaning of ‘fresh local produce’ since I grew up in Singapore where most things are imported. “Sensei, Shinano Sweet and Shinano Gold are yummy but a bit expensive. Akibae is nice and cheap!” Fresh to Nagano, my elementary school students educated me on how to pick my apples down to the species. I remember watching documentaries on strawberries, grapes and etc. (I highly recommend YouTubing NHK World’s Japanology series) and being extremely impressed by the Japanese’s love for them, as well as the effort that goes into producing the perfect fruit—reason why some can fetch such high prices).

With distinct seasons, varied climates, fertile soil and clean water, Japan produces a plethora of various fruits throughout its 47 prefectures. In school, elementary students study what fruits the different prefectures are known for. How well do you know the fruits of Japan? Do you know when and where to go picking your favourite fruit?

*Most prefectures produce several types of fruit. This map is a non-exhaustive, simplified summary featuring only 1-2 of the representative prefectures per type of fruit.
**This is a rough guide of the peak production periods. Please confirm with the orchards/farms if you plan to go fruit picking, as dates may vary according to place, weather and species.

Illustrations from Irasutoya